Sarah Otley is a Concept Architect for Sweden’s H&M-owned fashion chain Monki, where she is responsible for store strategy and brand storytelling through layout, furniture and installation design. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, she has recently become a Swedish citizen, having lived and worked in Stockholm for over seven years. As well as being part of the team responsible for more than 100 of Monki’s quirky, international retail interiors, Sarah is an accomplished artist, who combines traditional illustration, graphic design and architectural rendering, and has exhibited her work in Stockholm’s Gamla Stan (Old Town).
We asked Sarah to share her favourite places to visit, eat, stay, shop and covet in the Swedish capital.
This Girl is on Fire…
Sarah tells us that her current obsession is creating still life pictures of second-hand household implements: treating the abandoned as objects of desire. She explains: ‘I feed my vintage addiction by whiling away weekend mornings looking for inspiration at Herr Judits Brandstationen on Hornsgaten.
It’s an old fire station crammed with carefully selected vintage household objects and part of the same group as Stockholm’s world -famous ‘Judits’ vintage clothing shops. Once my imagination is fired up, and I can picture the eclectic sort of look I want to go for, I head off to scour one of the many Stadsmissionen (City Mission) charity shops dotted throughout Stockholm, convinced I will find hidden treasure at bargain prices. Sometimes it’s even true!’
The City Mission charitable foundation has stores in various locations throughout Stockholm, with each branch specialising in a particular type of product, whether clothing, collectable books, household items or furniture. You can even buy vintage textiles by weight. Profits from the stores go to fund Stadsmissionen’s work with Stockholm’s most vulnerable residents. More info on the Brandstationen is available from: www.herrjudit.se/brandstationen and on Stadsmissionen from: www.stadsmissionen.se
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree…
Sarah’s favourite place to chill out during a Swedish summer is on Djurgården, a green island in the centre of Stockholm, which used to house the King’s animal parks. ‘The whole island is a calm oasis, where you can walk, or visit the historic buildings, but my favourite place of all is Rosendals Trädgård, where you can lie under one of the 100 apple trees in the ancient orchard and read a book in the dappled light.’ she explains.
Rosendals Trädgård (‘The Rose Valley’) is an open garden dedicated to educating the public about bio-dynamic gardening. As well as lecture, workshop and exhibition spaces, it has a renowned plant nursery, a wonderful café housed in old greenhouses, and a bakery; famous for organic bread, pies, buns, cookies and cakes, all cooked in a wood-fired oven. Find out more at: www.rosendalstradgard.se
Life Through a Lens…
‘I love the Fotosgrafiska,’ says Sarah, ‘but sometimes it’s hard to choose which part I find most inspiring: the immense photographic collection housed there, or the incredible views of Stockholm you get from the huge picture windows in the top floor café. Either way, it’s a fabulous place to visit, eat brunch, and get ideas.’
Fotografiska (‘Photography’) museum of contemporary photography is housed in an historic industrial building at Stadsgårdskajen. The Art Nouveau style building designed by Ferdinand Boberg, one of Sweden’s most respected architects, was built between 1906 and 1910 and initially used as a customs house. The original brick facade is still intact, while the interior has been renovated to provide 5500 square meters of exhibition space, which house 15- 20 major exhibitions each year. Free tours of current exhibitions are offered on Fridays and more info can be found at: www.fotografiska.eu/en/
Consider Yourself Ett Hem
‘Ett Hem, (which means simply ‘A Home’) the stunning hotel with interiors by my design idol Ilse Crawford, would be my dream place to stay in Stockholm’ says Sarah. ‘I love the way she has made it incredibly stylish, but still completely relaxing and welcoming. It’s the look I’m always trying to recreate with my second-hand store foraging, but she makes it appear effortless. It takes serious design talent (and a lot of money!) to make a place look so ‘un-designed’!’ she enthuses, continuing: ‘The place has an amazing reputation for making guests feel as if they really are in their own home, (or the home of their most stylish friend) but it’s full of beautiful pieces of art and iconic Scandinavian furniture.’
Ett Hem is a 12-bedroom hotel housed in an Arts and Crafts building, which offers a tranquil home away from home, (where guests can even help themselves to snacks and drinks form the kitchen), and is steeped in the Scandinavian aesthetic where functionality meets beauty. It even has a traditional Swedish Sauna! You can find out more about the hotel and its exceptional hospitality and design at www.etthem.se
More information about Sarah Otley and prints of her work are available from www.sarahotley.com